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Archive for November, 2006

26.2

Seattle Marathon 2006

I did it! 26.2 miles in 7hrs, 7mins and 28secs. Today I walked the Seattle Marathon in the light snow and the light rain and the clear air, then the light rain and then the driving rain and then the snow again. My feet did not blister and at no moment did I feel I wouldn’t finish.

It was inspiring all the way. It was just amazing to witness the people taking part and the support people, both official and spectators, were phenomenal. Many times I felt glad that I was walking and not standing supporting. I bet I was warmer than a lot of them! Although the rain and snow were quite an added bonus to the challenge it was only in the last 2/3 of a mile the rain and sleet really started to become ferocious. It just meant that my arms, legs, runners, socks and feet were completely and utterly soaked as I headed into the stadium at the Seattle Center to cross the finish line. At that point the sleet really started turning to snow. James, Ashley and Caitlin were waiting in the bleachers to greet me. Ashley and Caitlin were damp and a bit miserable (Ash more so) and very pleased to see me (Caitlin more so). Once we entered the warm recovery area they perked up more.

Some nature highlights walking the marathon:

The amazing view of the snow covered Cascades for most of the walk. Despite heavy cloud cover they just seemed to burst through it all and shine.

A large v-formation of birds flew over Seward Park. They were too high in the sky to identify the kind of bird but I watched them for a while and took care not to trip doing so.

All the wet and wonderful autumn leaves in shades of yellow and brown lining the sides of the route through Seward Park.

The few miles I walked through the arboretum before the final push home. There were times when I just forgot I was walking a marathon in a city. (I was really looking forward to this part of the marathon and it didn’t disappoint.)

One of the joys of walking for me is being able to listen to books on my iPod. The marathon rules state that headphones are not allowed. From talking with others with some experience in such walking events my understanding was that people do it anyway. So I decided that I would bring my iPod and then get a feel for others’ usage and officials’ responses. The result was lots of people using them and no one minding. I used my iPod with just one earphone because I did recognize the safety concern that you may not hear runners or walkers coming from behind and could cause someone to trip (how awful would that be!)

Throughout my walk I listened to:

Jerome Groopman’s ‘The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness’. Listening to the Anatomy of Hope kept me focused on the how amazing it is to be alive and well and able to walk 26.2miles.

During my walk I had lots of time to think of the people I have known who are no longer alive. The saddest was walking a section of 5th Ave and passing a ramp where myself and our friend John Dunne stood together in 2000 watching the preparations to implode the Kingdome. Not a day has gone by since his unexplained drowning in the London Thames two years ago that I have not thought of him.

Mostly I found my focus returning again and again to Christian and his wife Jennifer. Christian has been through so much in the last number of years dealing with cancer and he just knocked me out when he trained and completed the STP (Seattle to Portland) 204 mile bike ride with James this year and then went on to ride the 100 mile Portland Livestrong Challenge a couple of weeks later. I think that support is everything when tackling anything in life and Jennifer is the other half of the force that keeps the Cabanero duo surviving and savoring all that life puts their way. You two are my friends and my inspiration.

Madeleine Albright’s ‘Madam Secretary’. A gap filler between Groopman and U2. I’ve been listening to Madam Secretary during training walks and it’s fascinating stuff. The audio book just happens to be very long so I’m not yet finished (but I’m almost there). It’s an added bonus that Madeleine Albright reads it herself. I find it very satisfying to hear her voice as she recounts her years as Secretary for State.

I saved U2’s ‘All That You Can’t Lave Behind’ Album for the last 3 miles. It was absolutely motivational at the end and I’d purposely timed it so that it was just finishing as I came up to the stadium so that I could turn it off, put away the iPod, and simply enjoy crossing that finish line. If you have ever listened to the lyrics of the album you’ll now just how appropriate they are to someone doing a major stretch of walking.

I’ve been playing it in the car for the last three months and the girls are big U2 fans and will often request that we listen to it. Caitlin adores the second song on the CD and calls it, “You got to get yourself together again” (It’s actually called, ‘Stuck in a moment that you can’t get out of’, which is the next line after Caitlin’s favorite line that she thinks is the title). Ashley used to call that song her favorite too. Recently, though she has switched to the opening song, ‘Beautiful Day’. Given that I love the rain it was actually very fitting that I listened to that first as I walked through the rain on the homeward stretch of the marathon. Then they have a fabulous and aptly named song called ‘Walk On’.  Given the context I was listening in, I burst out laughing when I heard the following lyrics from the song at the precise the moment I spotted in the distance the Seattle Center stadium, which held the finish line: “Home…I can’t say where it is but I know I’m going home, that’s where the hurt is” 🙂 Listening to the U2’s album I constantly thought of the joy of finishing the marathon (a longtime goal) and the joy of seeing my family waiting for me at the end.

James has been wonderfully supportive, particularly this last week when we’ve all had the flu and it looked uncertain if I would be well enough to head out today. On Friday it almost seemed that with the flu, and the forecast for rain and then snow, the Universe was trying to send me a message that I should give the marathon a miss. James helped me stay mentally strong. (Though if I’d woken this morning to a hurricane warning I think I might have finally listened to the Universe 🙂 ) Anyway, seeing James, Ashley and Caitlin sitting in the rain and sleet, all wet and cold and smiling and waving at me as I walked towards the finish line is a memory I’ll cherish.

All that’s left to say is, ‘Where will I do marathon number 2?’

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